Revolution in Egypt: Learn More!

Are you excited about the grassroots revolution happening in Egypt?  Do you want to learn more about the background of what’s happening and what the movement is organizing for?  Here are some resources:

First, a recent video of a protester in Tahir Square in Cairo.  She explains the political goals and strategies of the movement.  Video from Zero Silence.

Plus, the Crunk Feminist Collective breaks it down below.  This primer was compiled by CF Aisha and posted at CFC by CF Susiemaye.  Reposted with permission.

The Revolution Televised: A Brief Primer on Egypt

Cai Yang/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com

Egypt has been all over the news lately, as Egyptians have lifted their voices in condemnation of despotic president, Hosni Mubarak. There are some key things to keep in mind as the events unfold:

1.     Don’t get it twisted:  this is a revolution.

It has been called chaos, upheaval, civil unrest, an uprising, a challenge, a twitter revolution, a youth movement, and class warfare. Each category reduces the power of the people to come together to build a popular revolution, which requires coalition building to fight for connected interests and a common goal. Call it what it is: a revolution.

2.      Women are a part of the revolution.  Women are on the front lines protesting, organizing, and agitating for justice. This is a feminist issue.

AP Photo/Khalil Hamra

As 8-year-old crunk-feminist-in-training Juju contends:

3.      The USA has historically supported oppressive political regimes if they serve American military and economic interests. (See Haiti and the Dominican Republic for some examples close to home. See also Iraq and Afghanistan).

On their website, the U.S. Dept of State’s entry on Egypt states: “The United States and Egypt enjoy a strong and friendly relationship based on shared mutual interest in Middle East peace and stability, revitalizing the Egyptian economy and strengthening trade relations, and promoting regional security…U.S. military cooperation has helped Egypt modernize its armed forces and strengthen regional security and stability.”

While the article makes passing mention of the “significant restrictions on the political process and freedom of expression for non-governmental organizations,” it largely praises the infamously rigged 2005 election, stating: “Progress was seen in the September 2005 presidential elections when parties were allowed to field candidates against President Mubarak and his National Democratic Party. In early 2005, President Mubarak proposed amending the constitution to allow, for the first time in Egypt’s history, competitive, multi-candidate elections. An amendment was drafted by parliament and approved by public referendum in late May 2005. In September 2005, President Mubarak was reelected, according to official results, with 88% of the vote. His two principal challengers, Ayman Nour and No’man Gom’a, took 7% and 3% of the vote respectively.”

To make a long story short, it has been a vested interest for the U.S. government to look the other way while Mubarak and his cronies ran an oppressive regime.

This vested interest continues as Egyptians far and wide are standing up in revolt. A recent article from the BBC News notes:

The United States is trying to steer Egypt away from revolution towards evolution. It is seeking a middle, managed course towards change. It does not want simply to dump an ally of 30 years, one who has stood by the treaty with Israel which is of great importance to US Middle East policy. But it is now signalling that President Hosni Mubarak’s departure – if not now, then later – has to be part of that change.

You can see this in a shift of American language.

Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Egyptian government was ‘stable and looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.’

But by Sunday, she was calling for ‘an orderly transition to a democratic government.’”

Side eye.

4.      Despite popular belief, Egypt and Tunisia are real places in northern Africa.

In his speech January 28, President Obama talked about freedom movements in Asia, Europe, the United States – yes only the United States constitutes the Americas–Africa and the Arab world. Terms such as “the Arab World,” ” the Islamic states,” and “the Middle East” work to oversimplify complex societies with diverse cultures and distinct histories, and these terms work to collapse countries into a totalizing US-versus-them binary that is unproductive for thinking about people’s movements taking place across northern Africa. For example, there are elections taking place in Sudan and protests taking place in Algeria right now and knowing this can help us to contextualize, understand, and support the liberation movements happening in the region.

5.      References to the Muslim Brotherhood, looters and thugs, and anarchy by Western news media reproduce orientalism and racism and discredit the revolution as a political movement. Paying attention to diction and rhetoric is not about splitting hairs or being “politically correct,” lest we forget the “refugees” of Hurricane Katrina.

For more on Egypt, check out these resources:

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/30/egypt-revolution-2011_n_8160…

Al Jazeera: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2011/01/29/live-blog-291-egypt…

Democracy Now!: http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2011/1/29/sharif_kouddous_reporting_…

Shout out to CF Aisha for compiling the data for this post!

Update 1: Get involved!  Thank you to Clarissa who added the following info in the comments:

International Day of Solidarity with the Egyptian People, Feb. 5th 12-2pm

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=196363573712802

Join the Virtual March of Millions in Solidarity with Egyptian Protestsers!
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=126197157451259

Update 2: Check out this link from Global Voices Online that gathers reports and analyses of women in the movement:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2011/02/01/protesting-women-celebrated-online/

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Unforgotten Faces – Acknowledging Black Womyn of South Africa

Re-posted with permission from the amazing blog, Black Looks.

Unforgotten Faces – Acknowledging Black Womyn of South Africa

by Zanele Muholi on August 6, 2010

Busisiwe Sigasa

For Artscape Women’s Festival 2010, Zanele Muholi and Ellen Eisenman have produced a collection of photographs that celebrate women’s lives. They recognize and honor the living as well as those who have left the planet. And they question, why does society allow some to be taken away so early and with such violence? These are Unforgotten Faces.

The artists’ collaboration began in 2008, as they began to share ideas, images, questions, and challenges. Included in the exhibit are portraits of women; in addition, Muholi and Eisenman have together created a series of stamps, acknowledging Black Womyn of South Africa, especially in honor of Busi Sigasa, Nosizwe Cekiso, Eudy Simelane, and Penny Fish . Zanele and Ellen hope that their work stimulates a discussion about hidden histories–unexamined stories that so influence many women’s daily lives. In order to honor life, let us see all of life, and to question the brutality of how many lesbians are dying.

About her portraits, Zanele Muholi has said,

“In the face of all the challenges our community encounters daily, I embarked on a journey of visual activism to ensure that there is black queer visibility. It is important to mark, map and preserve our mo(ve)ments through visual histories for reference and posterity so that future generations will note that we were here.

In my portraits, I present our existence and resistance through positive imagery of black queers (especially lesbians) in South African society and beyond. I show our aesthetics through portraiture. Historically, portraits serve as memorable records for lovers, family and friends.

“The viewer is invited to contemplate questions such as: what does an African lesbian look like? Is there a lesbian aesthetic or do we express our gendered, racialised and classed selves in rich and diverse ways? Is this lesbian more ‘authentic’ than that lesbian because she wears a tie and the other does not? Is this a man or a woman? Is this a transman? Can you identify a rape survivor by the clothes she wears?

“These portraits present an insider’s perspective that both commemorates and celebrates the lives of the black queers I have met in my journeys. Some of their stories gave me sleepless nights as I tried to process the struggles that were told to me. Many of the women I met had been violated and I endeavoured not to exploit them further through my work. I set out to establish relationships with them based on a mutual understanding of what it means to be female, lesbian and black today. “


Ellen Eisenman’s portraits are tributes to cultural workers–people who have committed a large part of their lives to working for progressive social and cultural change. They are from various walks of life and take up many different issues, from leading community groups to practicing the arts for social change, from organizing demonstrations to supporting youth groups. This multi-year project began in South Africa in 2009, and continues in the U.S.The goal of the work is to contribute to a larger understanding of social change and of the many different people who live their lives working for change.

At the core of any democratic society must be engaged citizens who organize politically in their own communities and who willingly and boldly cross the cultural borders that set us against each other. Otherwise, these borders between races, classes, sexualities, national boundaries, and gender expressions will increasingly fragment us into ever-smaller communities. It seems that the forces of division and against progressive social change are growing stronger and isolating us from one another. Now more than ever, we need to recognize and support those cultural workers who are deeply committed to progressive social change and who work against these dominant trends.

Text and Photographs by Zanele Muholi and Ellen Eisenman ©2010

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Caster Semenya Returns to Compete; Petition to the International Olympic Committee Regarding Intersex Athletes

In a statement posted late last month, Caster Semenya, the South African runner and world champion announced her plans to return to competition, despite the IAAF’s refusal to release the results of her “gender tests”, citing a violation of her rights through their quest to police and “determine her sex”:

Since my victory in the female 800 meter event at the Berlin World Championships in August last year, I have been subjected to unwarranted and invasive scrutiny of the most intimate and private details of my being. Some of the occurrences leading up to and immediately following the Berlin World Championships have infringed on not only my rights as an athlete but also my fundamental and human rights including my rights to dignity and privacy … This information has also been placed in the hands of the IAAF. I am of the firm view that there is no impediment to me competing in athletics competitions. I will however continue to assist the IAAF with whatsoever they may require for their own processes and in this regard I have instructed my legal and medical team to work closely with, and continue negotiation with them for these purposes. I hereby publicly announce my return to athletics competitions. My coach, agent and I will work closely together to identify and prepare for a limited number of athletics meetings over the course of the coming athletics season.

The Guardian UK has some background on this most recent development here.

In related news, and partially in response to Semenya’s situation, The Intersex Initiative recently posted about the International Olympic Committee’s recommendations regarding intersex athletes, concluding:

An increase in education and awareness is certainly welcome, but it appears that IOC is overstepping its role as an athletic authority when it prescribes recommendations for how athletes’ medical conditions should be managed or treated.

Further, those involved in the process have been quoted in the media that their view is that athletes with intersex conditions should be allowed to compete if they are being treated for them, establishing a new requirement that only applies to intersex athletes (that is, other athletes could follow or refuse medical advice without fear of being disqualified by the IOC).

Intersex activist and writer Hida Viloria has written a petition demanding OIC to stop excluding and stigmatizing intersex athletes, which can be found here.

For more analysis about the Caster Semenya story, check out
this article at Transgriot and another one at Questioning Transphobia.

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Mar 29th, Washington, DC: Radical Forgiveness: Report Back From Rwanda

DC Benefit for Visions To Peace Project:

As we struggle to end cycles of violence in our local communities, what can we learn from Rwandans’ efforts to heal and rebuild in the aftermath of genocide?

This event is for YOUTH, YOUNG ADULTS, and OLDER FOLKS!! There will be inter-generational dialogue (in the form of small group discussions) after the film screening and poetry performance. Please spread the word!!!

Radical Forgiveness: A Report-Back from Rwanda
Monday, March 29, 2010

6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Salvation
Army Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center
2300 Martin Luther King Ave. SE Washington , D.C. 20020
(Two blocks from the Anacostia Metro Station – Green Line)

featuring

As We Forgive – a film by Laura Waters Hinson

Performance by SLAM Poet Sonya Renee Taylor

Could you forgive a person who murdered your family?

This is the question faced by the subjects of As We Forgive, a documentary about Rosaria and Chantal— two Rwandan women coming face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide.

Struggling to live again as neighbors, these survivors and killers discover the power and the pain of radical reconciliation.

A variety of East African Food will be served!

RSVP to johonnam@yahoo.com or call 301-675-5178.

FREE!!

Donations requested to benefit the Visions to Peace Project: http://www.visionispower.org

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